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August 15, 2011

Top concerns review: Week one

Before fall camp started, Duck Sports Authority listed its four top concerns for the 2011 football team. Following each week of camp, we will review the progress that has been made towards answering those questions.

1. Wide receiver - Week one of fall camp confirmed what we suspected; the 2011 Ducks will have a load of talent at wide receiver. Replacing two of three starters is not an easy task for a high-powered offense, unless that offense is coupled with high powered recruiting. Newcomers B.J. Kelley, Rahsaan Vaughn, Tacoi Sumler and Devon Blackmon showed why they were the nation's top WR class last year. Speed and athleticism is what the four new guys on Scott Frost's unit have in common. Still though, that is not the same thing as getting into a game, as Coach Frost told DSA on Friday "they have a long way to go." Lavasier Tuinei had an outstanding week at practice, even helping a bit with the newcomers in the all-important arena of blocking. DSA also thought sophomore Blake Cantu and redshirt freshmen Eric Dungy and Keanon Lowe had solid first weeks of camp.

2. Linebacker - This doesn't seem to be that big of a problem for the Ducks as graduating two seniors into the NFL might suggest. Both middle linebackers Dewitt Stuckey and Kiko Alonso looked solid in their first week, as did SLB Josh Kaddu and WLB's Michael Clay and sophomore Boseko Lokombo. All three of the latter guys can play either Will or Sam, and all of them appear to be Pac-12 level starters.

3. Offensive line - OL will be one of the last units to define itself with Steve Greatwood looking at numerous combinations the first week. The three-man tryout at center between sophomore Karrington Armstrong, freshman Hroniss Grasu and RFr Hamani Stevens is proving to be quite interesting, with Grasu seeming to get the most snaps with the first unit in week one. Chip Kelly told DSA on Wednesday that the position was "wide open", something that will surely be the case for at least the next week of camp. At some point before September 2nd the starting unit will need to get settled upon in order to work out their timing and calls.

4. Defensive line - Despite graduating three starters off last years' unit, the DL is not a great concern as one would normally assume. Over time, Duck fans will recognize that given even modest size and talent to work with, Jerry Azzinaro will get the job done. Watching the first week of fall confirmed what DSA thought; the DL has a lot of talent and depth. Senior DE Brandon Hanna wasn't at every practice but had a good excuse. He was finishing up a summer class and is now a University of Oregon graduate. In his absence Terrell Turner and Dion Jordan played well. In addition to Ricky Heimuli, Taylor Hart and Wade Keliikipi on the inside, Isaac Remington and Jared Ebert both look ready to contribute in 2011, giving the Ducks as much depth at defensive tackle as they have had in a while.

The Oregon Ducks continue with their second week of Fall Camp at 1:15pm Monday on the grass practice fields to the west of the Autzen Complex. The practice is open for observation from the soccer bleachers south of the fields. Stay tuned to Duck Sports Authority for ongoing camp coverage as the Ducks look for a return trip to the national title game.


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